McKelvey and Schwartz (2004, this issue) propose that the number of markers used to assign individual identity in DNA-based population inventories should be doubled or tripled relative to established practice, primarily to facilitate indirect statistical tests for genotyping errors. If applied to studies that use plucked hair samples, this suggestion would cause a proportional increase in the effort required to generate results, and an even greater increase in the number of errors initially present in those results. Since no empirical or deductive evidence was presented to show how established methods of selective reanalysis can fail to detect errors, I conclude that this proposal would dramatically increase costs without improving data quality. While the optimal number of markers will vary between study populations, I present 1 example in which identical results would have been achieved with 3 markers or with the 15 suggested by McKelvey and Schwartz (2004).
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Vol. 68 • No. 3